Robinson overcomes knee injury for Surf Ranch return
Top-ranked Australian surfer Jack Robinson says the predictability of waves at the Surf Ranch Pro is the perfect way to return to the Championship Tour following his knee injury.
Competition will be held at the central California wave pool this weekend, with Robinson back after devastatingly missing defending his title at his home break Margaret River last month after he tore his meniscus at Bells Beach.
While Robinson, ranked world No.3, will be the leading Australian male followed by Ethan Ewing at five, Tyler Wright sits atop the women's rankings with Molly Picklum third and defending world champion Stephanie Gilmore sixth.
Critics of the Surf Ranch Pro say the sameness of the waves on offer to each surfer, who complete a run rather than challenge in a heat for priority and wave selection, eliminates a major component of surf competition.
But Robinson told AAP it suited him after the knee injury.
"It's a good event for me to come back at, right now just because it's such a controlled environment," the 25-year-old said.
"Once we get back and do the other events, I have to set up harder but here it's just step by step right now for me so it will be fun."
Robinson has only competed at the Surf Ranch once, back in 2021, when he made an early exit and has drawn the venue owner, 11-time world champion and wildcard recipient Kelly Slater in his cut-throat four-man qualifying group.
Each surfer gets two right and two left waves with the best of each combined for a total score.
First place from these heats advance straight to finals on Sunday (local time), fourth is eliminated, while second and third place will surf under lights on Saturday night and get just one left and right wave to lock in their best single-wave score.
The top two men from those 12 surfers and one woman from six move on to the quarters.
While he hasn't had a lot of time practising in the pool, Robinson said he felt comfortable and it suited his strengths.
"Definitely with the waves I had yesterday, I had some really good ones," he said.
"You have to adapt for wherever you are in the world and learn new things and try to be good at it.
"It suits everyone because it's linking the wave together because it is really perfect, but you just have to really put the wave together and time every part of it really well, that's the main thing."
He said one of the toughest things to conquer was the length of the six foot barrelling wave which can yield rides of up to a minute.
"I think the wave is too long, it's next level, cause we had eight waves yesterday and your legs are just toast," he said.
"Last time I was here I remember I was way more tired because it was the first time I'd ever done it and then this time I've trained specifically for it but it's a full test for your strength."